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Fundamentals of Extremism -- The Christian Right in America
Editor: Kimberly Blaker
Book Review

This collaborative review misses hardly a descriptive trick. It is an excellent review of events spawned by extremist behavior. However, there is a major problem. What Blaker missed, in spite of her title to the contrary, is the fundamentals of extremism. It is obvious that the descriptions of behavior, while real and basic in a sense perhaps, are not the fundamentals one can hold onto and use in working toward peace.

We must ask what leads to violent behavior and what can be done about those things?

To appreciate this book, its contents can be summarized in its spirit. Contributors quoted pull no punches. They document the history, the tactics, and the social consequences, like attacks on the first amendment. The authors also document their resources.

This book adds up to a scary assessment of the Christian Right. The likes of Pat Buchanan cannot be elected soon perhaps, but they are already pulling strings in government by having Bush in their pocket, doing their bidding and more.

Some scary excerpts:

Pat Robertson: "When the Christian majority takes over the country, there will be no satanic churches, no more free distribution of pornography, no more abortion on demand and no more talk of rights for homosexuals. After the Christian majority takes control, pluralism will be seen as immoral and evil and the state will not permit anybody to practice it."

William H. Rehnquist: "The 'Wall of separation between church and state' is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor that has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned."

Randall Terry: "I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good . . . Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty; we are called by God to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism."

William Martin: "[A] theonomic order would make homosexuality, adultery, blasphemy, propagation of false doctrine, and incorrigible behavior by disobedient children subject to the death penalty, preferably administered by stoning."

Gilles d'Aymery: [A reviewer] "The hard core of the Religious Right is anti-science, anti-environment, anti-public education, anti-choice, anti-feminism, anti-gay and lesbian rights, anti-sex education, anti-free-speech, anti-pornography, anti-affirmative action, anti-welfare, anti-civil rights, anti-evolution, anti-interracial relationships, anti-tax, anti-AIDs funding, anti-pluralism, anti-liberalism, anti-other religions, anti-scientific research, anti-secularism, anti-modernity... They are in fact inherently anti-democratic."

If this doesn't blow you away, nothing will.

What Blaker might have expounded more on is the correlations of power among the institutions of state, industry, and religion, and how each reaches into the other for support and to leverage its own power. This is a minor issue for the book, but a major one for humankind.

The human organism more often than not is concerned with power and pecking order. See the Authoritarian Personality for a common denominator that needs to be recognized and dealt with. This is the gravest and most fundamental issue facing the world today. The authoritarian personality is ripe for conversion and radicalization, even to the point of bombing government buildings in Oklahoma and suicidal bombings in the Middle East.

We endorse Blaker's book as a must read for anyone serious about the future of humanity. She presents many pertinent facts and trends in time.


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